When discussing the forefathers of animation, one name comes to mind...and the second that most likely follows is Chuck Jones.
What more can be said about this man? He's considered one of the most beloved animators of all-time, and for good reason; he's the man that produced several of the greatest Looney Tunes shorts, including Duck Amuck, One Froggy Evening, and of course, the "Hunting Trilogy" of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck shorts. On top of that, Jones was also the mind behind some of the later Tom & Jerry shorts, as well as animated adaptations of The Phantom Tollbooth, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and some of Dr. Seuss' books like How the Grinch Stole Christmas. But out of all of Jones' creations, there's one that tends to get overlooked: a 13 episode series of Flash-animated webtoons that follows the every day life of a timberwolf with a...unique family heredity. This was known simply as Timber Wolf, and it was one of Chuck Jones' last projects before finally passing on in 2002.
There's no real set plot to Timber Wolf; the plot differs from episode to episode. But the basic jist of the series follows Thomas Timberwolf, the main character of the series who's about as refined as any Southern gentleman (and with the appropriate voice to boot!) However, Thomas has a unique trait to him. Whenever he says (or, really, shouts) the word timber, a tree falls on top of him. This is made worse by the fact that A) Thomas happens to live in a forest, and B) "Timber" happens to be his middle name. So, the series follows Thomas as he tries to live his life from day to day, putting up with the likes of the resident troublemaker Earl Squirrel, and trees constantly falling on top of him.
And that's the series in a nutshell.
All you need to do is watch one episode, and you'll instantly see Chuck Jones' influence in this series. In fact, with its slapstick antics and jokes, you could easily pass this off as a Looney Tunes spinoff! Then again, given that this was made by Chuck Jones himself, it's rather obvious. To be perfectly honest, though, the humor in the series DOES feel very gimmicky. The only real running gag in the series is a tree falling on top of Thomas whenever he shouts the word timber; granted, there's certain variations of the joke (such as trees falling on top of Thomas when he didn't even SAY timber to begin with), but there's not much outside of it. It's not that the gags aren't funny, mind you, but that's basically the humor's main schtick, and it gets redundant after watching a few episodes. It doesn't help that there's only a handful of supporting characters outside of Thomas and Earl; you could count all of them off on both hands, and not go past ten. That's how small the cast is.
The animation in the series was all done in Flash, and to me, it's a mixed bag. On the one hand, it looks really nice; it's bright, colorful, and gives off a great Looney Tunes vibe. On the other hand, the animation itself is, at times, shaky. Keep in mind, though, this series was made a little under nine years ago, and Flash was still something relatively new at the time. So I can excuse the animation for the most part. The music of the series isn't terribly vast, but there's a good assortment of short country pieces in each episode, with some fiddle thrown in whenever Earl's on the screen. And the theme song is irresistably catchy, too; try not to get it stuck in your heads, I dare you. A fun fact I should mention is that the band who performed the theme, Riders in the Sky, worked on another Warner Bros. project after this one. What was it? I'll leave it up to you guys to figure out.
Finally, there's the voice work. Since, again, this series features a small cast of characters, Timber Wolf only features two voice actors in most of the episodes, those being Joe Alaskey (who plays Thomas), and Nancy Cartwright (Earl). They both perform their voices remarkably well, and they fit; Thomas speaks in a suave, dignified manner, whereas Earl has more of a troublemaker's voice that'll easily remind people of one Bart Simpson. The other characters, for what very little screentime they have, sound okay at best.
If there's anything I had to complain about aside from the aformentioned details, one of them would have to be the length of the series. I know production stopped after Jones died, and for what it is, the length is fine. But I think the creators could've carried on without him and made more episodes to flesh out some of the side characters a bit more. This could've been a REALLY fun web series if the team was still working on it, I believe.
But complaints aside, Timber Wolf is a series that I think is underrated. In no way is it better than any of the Looney Tunes shorts (nothing will EVER top those, in my book), but still, Timber Wolf is a fun little series in its own right, and I recommend it to anyone who's a fan of Chuck Jones' work, or is just a fan of animation in general.
Timber Wolf was created by Warner Bros., and animated with assistance from Atomic Cartoons